After the events of Season 1, former Marine turned vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), also known as The Punisher, has been keeping to himself and living a quiet life on the road. When he finds himself a witness to the attempted murder of a teenaged girl (Giorgia Whigham), stepping in sends him down a path that puts a target directly on him, forcing him to uncover the dangerous mystery that she’s caught up in while also facing an old enemy that could destroy him.
At a press day to promote Season 2 of the Netflix series The Punisher, Collider got the opportunity to chat with co-stars Jon Bernthal and Giorgia Whigham about their favorite fight scenes, how challenging the fight scene schedule was, after Bernthal broke his hand, the ways that he most deeply connects with his character, the fun dynamic between Frank Castle and the young woman that he finds himself protecting, and finding the humor between their characters. Bernthal also talked about how he feels about the possibility that, with the recent Marvel/Netflix TV series cancellations, this could be the last time that he walks in this character’s shoes. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: This is a really badass and scary season, with some tremendous fight scenes. I can’t imagine how intense all of that must have been to shoot. So, congrats on Season 2!
JON BERNTHAL: Thank you!
GIORGIA WHIGHAM: Thank you!
I love how different all of the fight scenes are, and how some of them are really personal. It must have taken an insane amount of time to film some of them. Did you have a favorite fight scene or sequence to shoot?
BERNTHAL: That’s a good way of looking at it. I’m glad that you took that from it because I think the idea is to try to make each one personal. Some of the fighting that happens this season, unlike any of the other times with Frank, it’s not personal. It’s just that these are bad guys, and I’m trying to look after and protect this young woman that I don’t know. It’s not like these are the people that killed my kids, but some of it is quite personal. Eric Linden is the stunt coordinator. He was my double from Daredevil. We started this whole thing with Frank and the way he fights together, and I love him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s running the show now, as far as stunts, and I can’t wait for people to see what he does. We definitely took it up a notch, this year. Keith Jardine came in and did the weight room fight, which was great ‘cause I love Keith, so that was really special. And the bar fight, at the beginning, I injured myself doing. I broke my hand and that threw things back. We really couldn’t fight until the end, so they all stacked up. We shot all of the fights in the last month of the show.
BERNTHAL: It was pretty insane ‘cause you’re fighting in one scene, and then you’re learning the fight for another scene, in any downtime that you pretend to have. But I really dug the one in the bathroom. We shot that at the end, but it’s in the first episode. Those stunt performers and those women are the best in the business, and it was just so cool to work with people that are that gifted. They’re just killer, so it was really fun to work with them.
WHIGHAM: That was a cool fight for me, too, ‘cause I kinda just watched it. I was in the corner, cowering and all scared. Any opportunity I got to watch a fight scene go down, I was there for it, even if I wasn’t in it. For a lot of the bar fight scene, I was behind the monitor like, “What’s gonna happen?” So, being there in that little bathroom, but not having to necessarily learn choreography, like Jon did, was exciting. It was really cool.
Jon, fans of this show pretty unanimously agree that they couldn’t imagine anybody else playing this character because you’re just so good in this role.
BERNTHAL: Oh, thank you!
Did you have a moment where you really felt like you had ownership of, at least, this version of the character?
BERNTHAL: I don’t know. Looking at it from a macro level, I get how iconic the character is, I get how important he is, I get how he’s resonated for this long, and I’ve always talked about how much he means to the military community and the law enforcement community. If I look at it that way, it’s not only humbling, but it’s horrifying. I know the Frank Castle that I play. I know that guy, and I feel really connected to him. I think to his loss, and I have real deep empathy for our version of this character. I feel like he’s a bit in my bones, in that sense, but as far as the gravitas of what it means to play the character, I’m just super humbled. And look, I’m one of many who’s gotten to play him, in one of many iterations of the character, and there will be many more, after I’m done.
Are you excited to see who might play this character, in the future, and what they might do with it?
BERNTHAL: Absolutely! And I’m a real fan of every iteration, so far, and not just for actors, but different comic book writers. There have been so many different versions of the character, and they’re vastly different and there have been really great things to take from each. I’ve really dug everything about the character that’s come before, and I’m proud to be part of that canon.